James Gunn, the helmer of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, has been fired from the third installment following a resurfacing of old, now-deleted tweets — in which he joked about rape, pedophilia, AIDS, and the Holocaust — that have been detailed by Fox News after being unearthed by right-wing social media. The tweets reportedly included the following: “The best thing about being raped is when you’re done being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!'” Gunn, a vocal anti-Trump critic, also apparently RT’ed a user who tweeted that he enjoyed it “when little boys touch me in my silly place.”
MSN has gathered a collection of several other applicable Gunn tweets, some dating back to 2008, that have been recirculated. While it’s clear that there are some exaggerated details out there (for example, Mike Cernovich claims that Gunn deleted 10,000 tweets), Disney has presumably vetted the offending tweets before cutting ties with Gunn. Hollywood Reporter relays a statement from Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn:
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”
As of Friday afternoon, Gunn has deleted his Twitter account, but not before apologizing over the matter. “Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he tweeted. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”
While the decision to remove Gunn may seem abrupt on Disney’s behalf, the conglomerate will likely have to answer some questions about previous backlashes against the director. In 2012, for example, a petition circulated to remove Gunn as director of the first Guardians film after The Mary Sue website criticized Gunn for a blog post containing “slut-shaming” as well as “anti-gay language.” The details of that obscene blog post, called “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With,” can be read here.
Recently, Gunn has used his Twitter account as a proponent of the #MeToo movement. He spoke out against director James Toback over his alleged pattern of sexual misconduct. Gunn also took angry Star Wars fans to task for their harassment of franchise actors. At the time of today’s firing, Gunn was still working on a Guardians 3 script with plans for a 2020 release. Disney hasn’t issued any further statement regarding a replacement director or scribe.
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”